You are on page 1of 9

Introduction to Gematria - Hebrew Numerology In Hebrew, each letter possesses a numerical value.

Gematria is the calculation of the numerical equivalence of letters, words, or phrases, and, on that basis, gaining, insight into interrelation of different concepts and exploring the interrelationship between words and ideas. Here is a basic introduction to Gematria that discusses different systems for identifying the numerical equivalence of individual letters, how these letters can be calculated according to the implicit word-value of their names. The assumption behind this technique is that numerical equivalence is not coincidental. Since the world was created through God's "speech," each letter represents a different creative force. Thus, the numerical equivalence of two words reveals an internal connection between the creative potentials of each one. (see Tanya, Sha'ar HaYichud VeHaEmunah, chapters 1 and 12.) There are four basic ways to calculate the numerical equivalent for each individual letter:

Absolute Value Ordinal Value Reduced Value Integral Reduced value

The Tikunei Zohar explains that the concept of reduced value is related to the spiritual world of Yetzirah. On that basis, a relationship can be established between these four forms of calculation, the four spiritual realms, and the four letters of God's name:
letter of God's essential Name, Havayah yud hei vav hei type of calculation absolute value ordinal value reduced value integral reduced value world emanation (atzilut) creation (beri'ah) formation (yetzirah) action (asiyah)

On Innerpedia, our online encyclopedia, there are entries for many individual numbers, explaining both the significance of each number in number theory and what words and phrases equal that number. Words and phrases are taken from the gamut of traditional Torah literature and divided into sections: Bible, literature of the sages, Kabbalah, Chassidut, and Harav Ginsburgh's works. Here is a list of the current numbers with entries: 0 13 1378 1513 1839 1014 130 146 156 207 1225 1301 15 1600 216

2209 306 358 377 543 66 685 819

23 333 37 441 585 662 735 851

230 345 370 455 638 676 761 901

Four Methods for Doing Gematria Absolute value, (in Hebrew: mispar hechrachi) also known as Normative value: Each letter is given the value of its accepted numerical equivalent alef (the first letter) equals 1, beit (the second letter) equals 2, and so on. The tenth letter, yud is numerically equivalent to 10, and successive letters equal 20, 30, 40, and so on. The letter kuf near the end of the alphabet, equals 100; and the last letter, tav equals 400. In this reckoning, the letters chaf sofiet (final chaf), mem sofiet, nun sofiet, pei sofiet, and tzadik sofiet which are the "final forms" of the letters chaf, mem, nun, pei,and tzadik, used when these letters conclude a word, generally are given the same numerical equivalent of the standard form of the letter. However, sometimes the final chaf is considered equivalent to 500, the final mem to 600, etc. (see chart below). Following that alternate form of reckoning, the Hebrew alphabet is a complete cycle. The final tzadik equals 900 and thus, the alef equals both one and one thousand. Indeed, in Hebrew the same spelling is used for the name of the letter alef, and elef, meaning "one thousand." Noting this phenomenon, Rabbi Avraham Abulafia interprets the verse (Deuteronomy 32:30): "How can one pursue one thousand!" to mean: One, the first number, follows after one thousand in a complete and perfect cycle. Ordinal value (in Hebrew: mispar siduri): Each of the 22 letters is given an equivalent from one to twenty-two. For example, alef equals 1, kaf equals 11, taf = 22. The final kaf equals 23, and final tzadik equal 27. Reduced value (in Hebrew: mispar katan, modulus 9 in mathematical terminology): Each letter is reduced to a figure of one digit. For example, in this reckoning, alef equals 1, yud equals 10, kuf equals 100) would all have a numerical value of 1; beit equals 2, kaf equals 20, and reish equals 200 would all have a numerical value of 2, and so on. Thus, the letters have only nine equivalents, rather than twenty-two. In both the Ordinal and Reduced reckonings, the five letters whose form changes when they conclude a word are generally equivalent to their value when they appear within a word. However, they are sometimes given an independent value. For example, the ordinal value of the final nun is at

times considered 14, and is at times, 25. Similarly, its reduced value is at times 5, and at other times, 7. Integral Reduced Value (in Hebrew, mispar katan mispari): In this fourth method, the total numerical value of a word is reduced to one digit. Should the sum of these numbers exceed 9, the integer values of the total are repeatedly added to each other to produce a single-digit figure. The same value will be arrived at regardless of whether it is the absolute values, the ordinal values, or the reduced values that are being counted. Gematria Chart

Gematria Examples The Hebrew word, chesed ("lovingkindness") (spelled: chet, samech, dalet) has three letters. The absolute or normative value of chet is 8, that of samech is 60, and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 72. Thus, the integral reduced value is 9. Similarly, the ordinal value of chet is 8, that of samech is 15, and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 27. Thus, the integral reduced value is again 9. Finally, the reduced value of chet is 8, that of samech is 6 and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 18. Again, integral reduced value is 9.

Another example: the word chen, "grace," (spelled: chet, nun) is often used as an appellation for the Kabbalah. Its absolute value is 58 (chet equals 8, nun equals 50), or 708 when nun is given an independent value of 700. Its ordinal value is 22 (chet equals 8, nun equals 14), according to the normal reckoning, or 33 when the nun is assigned a value of 25. Its reduced value is 13 (chet equals 8, nun equals 5), or 15 if the nun is assigned an independent value. Its integral reduced value is 4 or 6. Letter Filling At times, the numerical value of a letter or word is given using another technique known as milui ("filling"; pl., miluim). Here, not only are the letters given numerical equivalents, they are considered complete words. In such cases, the letters used to spell out the main letter are considered to be "pregnant" within it. For example, the word chen is made up of two letters: chet, nun. The letter chet itself is spelled: chet, yud, tav equals 418. Nun is spelled: nun, vav, nun equals 106. Thus, the value of chen with its milui is 524. In this context, we must add that certain letters have more than one possible milui. For example, the letter hei can be spelled: hei, yud; hei hei; or hei, alef, arriving at equivalents of 6, 10, or 15 respectively. Similarly, the letter vav can be spelled: vav, yud, vav; vav, alef, vav; or vav, vav, with equivalents of 12, 13, and 22 respectively. It must be emphasized that these different calculations are not mere mathematical exercises. Rather each different numerical equivalent represents a different aspect of Divine influence. The most classic use of these alternate miluim is with regard to Divine Name Havayah (spelled: yud, hei, vav, hei). The gematria of the letters themselves is 26. However, with the milui, different figures are reached dependent on how the vav and hei are spelled. Following are the principal miluim of the Name Havayah discussed in Kabbalah: Havayah of 72 yud yud, vav, dalet hei hei hei, yud hei, yud total milui vav vav, yud, vav Havayah of 63 Havayah of 45 =6 =6 Havayah of 52 =20 =10 =12 =10 =52 hei, hei hei, hei

=20 yud, vav, dalet =15 hei, yud =22 vav, alef, vav =15 hei, yud =72 total milui

=20 yud, vav, dalet =15 hei, alef =13 vav, alef, vav =15 hei, alef =63 total milui

=20 yud, vav, dalet =13 vav, vav =45 total milui

These four sums, 72, 63, 45, 52, correspond themselves to the four letters of God's name Havayah (and the ten sefirot) as follows:

Letter of Havayah yud hei vav hei

Havayah of: 72 63 45 52 Chochmah Binah chesed to Yesod malchut

The Ten Sefirot Insight, wisdom Understanding The Emotional Attributes Kingdom

Each of the letters hei, vav, hei of the Name Havayah possesses three variant spellings. Thus, there are 27 (3 to the 3rd) possible miluim of Holy Name. There are thirteen possible numerical equivalents ranging from 44 to 72, with a midpoint of 58 (= chen). When added together, the total of all the miluim is 1521, which equals 39 squared. Thirty-nine is the numerical equivalent of Hashem Echad ("God is One"). The four forms of the Name Havayah cited above are considered to be the most essential forms and each correspond to a different letter of God's name, as above. When their sum, 232, is divided by four, the number 58 (= chen) is again reached. Similarly, 232 is numerically equivalent to yehi or ("Let there be light"), the first of the utterances of Creation.
The Five Vocal Origins of the Letters
The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet divide into 5 phonetic groups, based on their origin in the mouth's vocal system:

the throat: ( alef) ( chet) ( hei) ( ayin) the palate: ( gimel) ( yud) ( kaf) ( kuf) the tongue: ( zayin) ( shin) ( samech) ( raish) ( tzadik) the teeth: ( dalet) ( tet) ( lamed) ( noon) ( tav) the lips: ( bet) ( vav) ( mem) ( pai)

Phonetically, any two letters of the same origin can be interchanged. Thus, there are many Hebrew words whose proximity in meaning stems from their phonetic equivalence.

These letter interchangings are often used in Kabbalistic analysis of Hebrew words of phrases, particularly from the Bible and the Talmud. These techniques are employed many times in different articles on this website, see for example here, and here.

To view a video discussing the origin of the throat and its relationship with the letters that emanate from it, see here.

Gematria Examples
The Hebrew word, chesed ("lovingkindness") (spelled: chet, samech, dalet) has three letters. The absolute or normative value of chet is 8, that of samech is 60, and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 72. Thus, the integral reduced value is 9.

Similarly, the ordinal value of chet is 8, that of samech is 15, and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 27. Thus, the integral reduced value is again 9.

Finally, the reduced value of chet is 8, that of samech is 6 and that of dalet is 4. The sum of these three figures is 18. Again, integral reduced value is 9.

Another example: the word chen, "grace," (spelled: chet, nun) is often used as an appellation for the Kabbalah. Its absolute value is 58 (chet equals 8, nun equals 50), or 708 when nun is given an independent value of 700.

Its ordinal value is 22 (chet equals 8, nun equals 14), according to the normal reckoning, or 33 when the nun is assigned a value of 25.

Its reduced value is 13 (chet equals 8, nun equals 5), or 15 if the nun is assigned an independent value.

Its integral reduced value is 4 or 6.

Introduction to Letter Transformations ()

The Hebrew term for letter transformations is chilufei otiyot , which literally means "the interchanging of letters. There are a number of different transformation schemes used in Kabbalah, but in principle any of the possible pairings of the 22 letters constitutes a valid transformation and is referred to as an alef-beit. In Sefer Yetzirah, 22 such alef-beits are described (as the logically ordered basis of all the two-letter subroots of the Hebrew language; [Rela she'arim]). See also our article, Hebrew: The Ideal Programming Language. The six most common transformation systems are:

Al-bam At-bash Ach-bi Ayik-becher Achas-beta At-bach

The Albam Letter Transformation ()

Al-bam is a method of alphabetic transformation. The basic "direct" transformation pattern, wherein the alef-beit is divided into two equal groups of eleven letters which are then paired (first to first, second to second, etc) to transform one into the other. The name al-bam is a reference to the first two of these transformation pairs: alef-lamed and beit-mem. This is the alphabetic transformation whose elements correspond to the sefirot within the partzuf of chochmah--Abba.

Al-bam
alef beit gimmel dalet hei vav zayin chet tet yud kaf lamed mem nun samech ayin pei tzadik kuf reish shin tav

The Atbash Letter Transformation ()


At-bash is a basic "reflective" transformation pattern, wherein the first and last letters of the alef-beit transform into one another, as do the second and second-to-last, and so on. The name at-bash is a reference to the first two of these transformation pairs: alef-tav and beit-shin.

This is the alphabetic transformation whose elements correspond to the sefirot within the partzuf of binah--Imma.

At-bash
alef beit gimmel dalet hei vav zayin chet tet yud kaf tav shin reish kuf tzadik pei ayin samech nun mem lamed

The Ach-bi Letter Transformation ()


Ach-bi is a method of alphabetic transformation wherein the alef-beit is divided into two equal groups of eleven letters. Within each group, the letters pair "reflectively"--the first with the last, the second with the second-to-last, etc. The name ach-bi is a reference to the first two of these transformation pairs: alef-kaf and beit-yud. This is the alphabetic transformation whose elements correspond to the sefirot within the partzuf of knowledge (da'at.) The three transformation systems, al-bam, at-bash, and ach-bi (corresponding to wisdom (chochmah), understanding (binah), and knowledge (da'at) form a "transformation ring," which means that if you transform a letter using all three you will come back to your original letter. E.g., alef in al-bam transforms into lamed; lamed in at-bash transforms into kaf--, which using ach-bi, transforms back to alef.

Ach-bi
alef beit gimmel dalet kaf yud tet chet lamed mem nun samech tav shin reish kuf

hei vav

zayin vav

ayin pei

tzadik pei

The Achas- Beta Letter Transformation ()


Achas-beta is a method of alphabetic transformation wherein the first 21 letters of the alef-beit are initially divided into three equal groups of seven letters, which are then tripled together in "direct order": The first letter in each group--alef, chet, and samech; the second in each group--beit, tet, and ayin; etc. The final letter tav is added to the seventh triplet. The transformation pattern is one of "revolution" within each triplet, i.e. alef transforms into chet which transforms into samech which transforms into alef, etc. The name achas-beta is a reference to the first two of these transformation triplets. This is the alphabetic transformation whose elements correspond to the sefirot within the partzuf of Ze'ir Anpin (the seven emotive attributes).

Achas-beta
alef beit gimmel dalet hei vav zayin chet tet yud kaf lamed mem nun samech ayin pei tzadik kuf reish shin tav
The At-Bach Letter Transformation ()
At-bach is a method of alphabetic transformation that is initially divided into three groups, in accordance with either of two systems: 1. 2. 9, 9, and 4 when the five letters with a final form (mem, nun, tzadik, pei, and chaf [refered to as mantzapach, for short]) are not considered. 9, 9, and 9 when the five letters with a final form are considered.

The transformation pattern is "reflective" within each group. In a group of nine, the first and last letters transform one into the other, as do the second and eighth, the third and seventh, and the fourth and sixth. The fifth letter possesses no partner within the group. The "logic" behind this transformation pattern is that in each of the groups of nine letters the sum of each pair equals 10, 100, or 1000 (all identical when calculated as reduced value). The name At-Bach is a reference to the first two of these transformations: alef-tet and beit-chet. In Kabbalah, this is the alphabetic transformation whose elements correspond to the sefirot within the partzuf of kingdom (malchut)--Nukva Deze'ir Anpin.

At-bach
alef beit gimmel dalet tet chet zayin vav yud kaf lamed mem tzadik pei ayin samech kuf reish tav shin